The Youth Development Programme (YDP) was launched in 2017 which trained 15 youths with disabilities as advocates for social inclusion. The second series of the YDP kicked off last year with close to 20 new participants. This time, youths with and without disabilities worked together to promote greater social inclusion. With guidance from mentors hailing from the disability, social entrepreneurial, education and legal fields, the youths celebrated their success in a closing ceremony on 2 March.
Six months of hard work culminated in four projects:
i) Team Aurora: Prototype of a card game targeted at primary school students to increase understanding and awareness of disability issues and encourage support for people with disabilities;
ii) Team Plus De Murs x New Dimension: Disability awareness workshop design plans for potential employers hiring persons with disabilities;
iii) Team JECS: Creating psycho-social workshop for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from a local polytechnic; and
iv) Team Flying Elephant: Collaboration with National Library Board (NLB) on prototyping an inclusive library for children with ASD.
The participants also reflected on their personal growth and the sacrifices they had to make to see their projects through. Through YDP, Lionel Lee, 22, who has ASD, learnt the importance of time management when working in a team with members who work or study. “Working as a team especially when our schedules differ taught me how to handle tight deadlines and practice my organisational skills,” he shared.
Working with peers with disabilities on YDP has changed 21-year-old Lim Fang Wei’s perspective of persons with disabilities. “Barriers should not exist in the first place. Boundaries should be broken down instead,” he said, highlighting the importance of engendering positive change in all their social inclusion projects.
Geraldine Ng, who has cerebral palsy, expressed her gratitude towards her team mates, now turned friends. They have shown understanding towards her while working on the inclusive library project. Their friendship has encouraged the 22-year-old to continue trying her best to take this project beyond YDP.
Seeing the youths find fulfilment from this experience, SPD’s team in charge of the YDP is heartened to see unique friendships formed amongst them. They are especially grateful to the dedicated trainers from Skillseed and partners Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation and Youth Corps Singapore for making this possible, as well as the seven mentors who shared their valuable experiences and expertise: Russ Neu, founder and CEO, Social Collider; Jason Ng, deputy director, SunDAC; Chloe Lee, assistant manager, Office of Service-Learning, Singapore University of Social Sciences; Gary Chia, senior manager of social work and EIPIC, SPD; Goh Kee Choon, senior social worker, SPD; Sujatha Selvakumar, lawyer and legislative assistant; and peer mentor Joshua Ong, Nanyang Technological University undergraduate.